Boy, 12, Faces Battery Charge In New Mexico School Shooting

by
Reuters
A 12-year-old boy accused of opening fire with a shotgun at a New Mexico middle school and seriously wounding two students, has been charged with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, authorities said on Thursday.

Law enforcement personnel set up a perimeter following an early morning shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell

A 12-year-old boy accused of opening fire with a shotgun at a New Mexico middle school and seriously wounding two students, has been charged with three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, authorities said on Thursday.

The boy, Mason Campbell, will be tried as a juvenile in connection with the shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, said New Mexico State Police Lieutenant Emmanuel Gutierrez.

The charges were filed in children's court on Wednesday in the state's Fifth Judicial District Court, and the documents name the accused child.

Campbell is believed to have taken a 20-gauge shotgun from his home, modifying it and planning the attack. With the weapon concealed in a duffel bag, he entered the school gymnasium and opened fire on students waiting for classes to start, police said.

Investigators were also continuing to look into the possibility that Campbell warned some friends before the shooting. Police did not give a motive.

An 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were seriously wounded and airlifted to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, where the boy was in critical condition and the girl was listed as satisfactory on Wednesday.

A hospital spokesman on Thursday said the facility would not be releasing any more information on their conditions until further notice.

The shooting incident lasted just 10 seconds before a teacher, identified as John Masterson, stepped forward and persuaded Campbell to put down his gun, officials said.

The accused assailant will not be charged as an adult because of his age, in accordance with New Mexico law, officials said. No one under age 14 in the state can face adult sanctions.

After the shooting, Campbell was held at a facility in Albuquerque about 170 miles northwest of Roswell, police said.

The shooting was the second at a U.S. middle school in the last three months and comes in the midst of a contentious national debate on gun control that intensified after a young gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school in Connecticut.

In October, a 12-year-old boy in Sparks, Nevada, opened fire at his school, killing a teacher and wounding two students before killing himself.

The Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown in December 2012 prompted President Barack Obama to call for sweeping new gun control measures.

Most of Obama's proposals were defeated in Congress, but his administration this month sought new regulations aimed at clarifying restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill and bolstering a database used for firearms background checks.